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Senior Series: Drafting your resume and cover letter

Welcome back to another edition of the Senior Series.  

Last week, we reviewed the updated job search strategies that will help you find job opportunities that are viable within this changing world. Now that you have a sense of how to find opportunities, your next step is to ensure you have up to date application materials.  

The application materials required for most job applications are resumes and cover letters. We have organized several resources for you based on 3 stages of the writing process: drafting, fine-tuning, and final review. This can feel like a daunting task, but know that the Career Center can help you perfect your documents and provide the support you need.  

Take some time to peruse the resources included in this message. Have you scheduled a block of time to re-visit the information and resources later this week? Writing a resume or cover letter isn’t a quick task, but breaking it up into smaller chunks and stages will ensure that you get it done in a timely fashion.

Remember, you can still book career counseling appointments! We have plenty of availability for virtual appointments. You can self-schedule on Handshake, or send us an email at career@uvm.edu.

Senior Series Topics & Dates:  

Resume

Getting Started

Your best bet to get started on a new or updated resume is to consult our Resume module in Blackboard. If you haven’t logged in before, visit uvm.edu/career/blackboard for instructions on enrolling.

If you’ve already had a chance to review the module, you may want to check out these videos from Candid Career. This is an online resource packed with videos on every career-related topic you can think of. We’ve picked out a few that might be the most helpful to you in the resume writing process.

We also found a few articles that might be helpful to read over, include a step by step guide to getting starting in creating a new resume.

Fine-Tuning

Once you’ve got a solid draft in place, it’s time to start working on fine-tuning your document. Maybe you have an existing resume from past applications, or you’ve got the ball rolling on a new draft. Either way, we’ve pulled together a few articles and videos to help you polish what you’ve got!

A common question we get from students is, “what should I put on my resume?” An equally important question is, “what should I leave off of my resume?” If you are looking to fine-tune your resume, here are a few resume red flags provided by professionals in fields from education to engineering.

Red flag free? Great! Now it is time to really focus on revisions and proofreading. This article provides a strategy for helping resume writers sharpen their word choice by using keywords and strong action verbs. Use this to sharpen the words on your resume so you will stand out to recruiters and digital resume screening tools. 

A Final Look

You’ve revised your resume several times. A friend, family member, or another member of your personal network has taken a look at it. You’ve proofread it again. Now what?

Consider requesting an online document review, or even a 30 minute counseling appointment. A career counselor will review your work and provide written or verbal feedback. You can talk through challenge areas, and receive tips for maximizing your presence on the page. While we are happy to meet with students at all stages of the writing process, coming to the Career Center with your nearly complete draft is a great way to finalize your document for submission. Our online document reviews have a 1-3 day turnaround, and we are now able to offer next-day appointment scheduling. To request an online document review, log in to Blackboard, click “Prepare” and then “Resume” – the final step of the module is where you can submit your document for review.

In addition to submitting your document for review by the Career Center, consider reaching out to an alum on UVM Connect to ask for input. Three members of the UVM Alumni Association regional board have offered their support in looking at your documents: Ian Davis ’10, G’16, Director of Finance, Vermont Department of Economic Development; Sarah Madey ’09, Senior Brand Manager – Global Marketing at Hasbro, Inc. in Boston, and Aimee Marti ‘91, VP Branding and Corporate Social Responsibility at Aspenti Health. Try sending one of them a message to ask for a quick chat about your resume – or use the filtering features in UVM Connect to find other alumni who have volunteered to help and work in your industry of choice.

Cover Letters

Getting Started

Just like your resume, we also recommend starting off with our Cover Letter module in Blackboard as you prepare to write a new draft. This will take you through the basic steps of getting a new cover letter written.

We also have two documents to help you think about your story and how to present it on the page. Our Cover Letter Basics reviews the purpose of a cover letter and provides some tips for success. The Cover Letter Worksheet takes you through the step by step process of reflecting on your skills and experiences and customizing your cover letter for each position you apply to.

Fine-Tuning

Once you’ve got a solid cover letter draft, it’s time to start honing your document. We’ve pulled together three Candid Career videos focused on cover letters from the perspective of an employer.

Use this advice from employers to tailor your document for each position you apply to. And, like with your resume, consider reaching out to an alum on UVM Connect to ask them to take a look at your cover letter. Bring your specific questions – what kind of feedback are you looking for? Many alums are ready and waiting to help you!

A Final Look

Congratulations – you’re almost there! Before you send your cover letter out for job applications, it might be helpful to have a Peer Mentor or Career Counselor share their perspective through an online document review in Blackboard or a virtual appointment (which you can schedule via Handshake). Just like for your resume, you can submit a document for review by logging in to Blackboard, clicking “Prepare” and then “Cover Letter” – the submission field will appear in the last page of the module.

How to manage uncertain summer internship plans

A friend of mine recently shared this thought in a LinkedIn post:

The word “crisis” in Japanese is represented by two characters: 危機 (“Kiki”). The first character (危) means “dangerous” while the second (機) means “opportunity”.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot in relation to the pandemic we’re all experiencing. These circumstances are uncertain and scary, and are threatening some peoples’ lives and livelihoods. For those of us who have to pivot from our original hopes and plans, this crisis may also offer new opportunities.

Many of us are hearing from our previously-secured summer internship sites that our plans are delayed, canceled, or uncertain. Though it’s not what we’d hoped for, this could also be the chance to pivot and try something new. If your in-person summer plans are precarious, here are some steps you can take:

Pitch a remote project

Working remotely is a new and different experience for many of us, and likely for your internship site too. If it’s not possible to do your originally-planned internship, consider approaching your internship supervisor with an idea for a remote project. You might offer to coordinate social media marketing, do market research on similar organizations, create newsletter or blog content, analyze data, or generate sales leads. Instead of asking your supervisor to do all the work to convert your internship to a remote format, approaching with an idea makes it so much easier for your supervisor to say yes. If it’s not possible to do remote work at your original internship organization, consider approaching other organizations with similar project proposals.

Build your skills

Now is a great time to develop skills that can help you land a position and thrive in your future career. Think about possible dream jobs and take a look at some job descriptions to learn about the skills required for that position. If there are skills you’re missing, consider the ways that you can develop them this summer. You might take a project management course on LinkedIn Learning, try out computer animation on Khan Academy, or brush up on public speaking on Coursera (all free).

Grow your network

Talking to professionals in your field can help you understand the landscape of an industry, find potential mentors, and solicit important career advice. LinkedIn and UVM Connect are great places to start looking, and it’s easy to reach out with a quick ask. Make it easy for your contact to say yes by being specific and brief. You might send a message saying:

“Hi Mr. Rodriguez,
I hope you are doing well and staying healthy with everything currently happening in the world. I’m a current sophomore at UVM studying sociology, and I’m interested in careers related to food insecurity. I saw that you are also a UVM grad, and I was wondering if I could talk to you about your experience in the field. Would you have time to connect for a 20-minute phone call? I’m usually available Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Thank you,
Megan Trevino”

You can check out more advice about networking on the Career Center’s website.

Closing thoughts

For many people, summer 2020 won’t look as they had originally planned. That being said, remember that the Japanese word for crisis also contains the word opportunity. Think of this as an opportunity to build different skills, make new connections, and flex new muscles. This situation will pass, but in the meantime, try to make the most of it however you can.

If you want to talk through your individual situation, please reach out to the Career Center. We are still hosting appointments by phone or video call! You can self-schedule by logging in to Handshake, or shoot us an email at career@uvm.edu.

Amanda Chase
Internship Coordinator & Career Counselor

Despite COVID-19, the search goes on…

This is a stressful time, there’s no denying that among transitioning to online learning and adjusting your new everyday normal, your goals and plans have been impacted. As many industries experience severe disruption, you may be experiencing loss of income. Opportunities are still available and while you have to shift your strategy, the UVM Career Center is here to support you. If you were relying on that income or were hoping to build up your experience, there is still hope!

Below, you can find some tips and resources to help you secure income ASAP and make meaning of the opportunities ahead.

Who is Hiring & Where to Look

Although it may seem like many businesses are temporarily closing, there are still many companies that are accepting applications, some more so than ever. Some of the top places that are looking for part-time employment during the pandemic are grocers, department stores (Walmart, Target, etc.), convenience stores (7-11, Dollar Stores, etc.) and pharmacies (CVS, Wal-Green’s, etc.).  Each of these establishments sell essential goods such as food or cleaning supplies (and, yes, toilet paper) and are experiencing a surge in customers. Many are hiring employees in response to the increased demand.   

If you need work but would prefer less human interaction, consider looking for delivery driving.  Shipping & logistics companies and many restaurants are receiving more delivery orders due to shelter in place guidelines, and they need drivers to meet the demand.  If you had a flexible arrangement with a previous position and are looking for something similar, try exploring delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Doordash, or Postmates.

Part-Time Work = 100% Experience and Skills

The good news is that there are places hiring part-time employees. The challenging news is that it might not be exactly the experience that you were hoping for this summer, especially if you are trying to replace a position or internship that was related to your field of study. Losing that experience can be a devasting challenge, but there are creative ways to continue building your experience for your resume — even while taking on a part-time job unrelated to your field. 

When reflecting on your part-time work, think about how you are developing your Career Competencies. If you pick up part-time work at a grocery store, you may be tempted to write “stocked shelves” on your resume or leave it off completely. Instead of sharing an underwhelming story, consider incorporating the Career Competencies to transform that experience statement.  For example, “Collaborated with a team of peers to creatively solve supply problems in light of the COVID-19 pandemic” sounds like a stronger experience than “stocking shelves”.  Your experience is ultimately your story. The changes brought on by this pandemic is a part of all of our stories. It’s time to be creative (and honest) around how you tell your story.

Remote Search and Project-Based Work

Many companies that employ “gig” workers are still hiring, and although some specific industries have reduced their opportunities, you can still find opportunities for project-based and/or freelance work. Take stock of your skills and log into websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, Outsourcely and Handshake to find remote-based job postings, part-time gigs, and general opportunities to earn money. You can also find more opportunities to work from home if you use switch your location preferences to “everywhere”, “online”, and “remote”, depending on the search engine you are utilizing. Candor also offers a crowd-sourced database that lists thousands of companies and whether they are actively hiring or have frozen their recruitment efforts.

One word of caution: Some people may try to take advantage of the uncertain economy as an opportunity to post fraudulent positions. We have a resource about spotting fraudulent jobs and internships, but remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Volunteer: Put your Skills to Use and Develop New Ones

Many local organizations and non-profits are also heavily impacted by this global pandemic and its effects on the economy. You have skills that need development, and they have projects that need your input! It is always a good time to reach out to that organization or non-profit that encompasses interest areas that you are passionate about and offer your expertise and skills for their projects. While these projects may be unpaid work, you can complement your resume with this experience to make you a more competitive candidate in the future. You can find many organizations online – try this list compiled by Feel Good, or a website like idealist.org to get started.

Closing Thoughts

While everyday business relies primarily on in-person engagement, now is the time to shift your strategy to match the current situation. Despite this global pandemic, we encourage you to remain hopeful in your search, and please remember that you don’t have to do it alone. The UVM Career Center is here to support you! Schedule an appointment today via Handshake and visit us at uvm.edu/career for resources.

Senior Series: Job Search Strategies

Last week, we reviewed resources from the Career Center to help you adjust to these ever-changing times. This week, we will share tangible job search strategies that can help you find opportunities post-graduation.

Remember to set aside time later today or later this week to re-visit the information and action steps outlined in this newsletter – it’s pretty densely packed. You can expect to spend a few hours each week working on your job search, and going through these newsletters in careful detail is a great way to organize that time. In case you missed it, you can also view last week’s newsletter in our archive.

Many graduating seniors are feeling the pressure to find a full-time job that relates to their career aspirations while many organizations are having to change their own hiring timelines. The pandemic has forced everyone to adjust their plans to plan for a future which is difficult to predict. Because the future is unpredictable, we encourage job searchers to focus on an “experience” search rather than a “career” search. 

Under any circumstances, it’s rare to find a “dream job” as your first job out of college. This is the first step in your career journey, and it’s an opportunity to build your network, develop your skills, and reflect on what you want out of your long-term career. As you progress in the world of work, you’ll be able to speak to what you learned and how you grew during this difficult time. And remember: everyone else is going through this unprecedented moment in time, too.

As a reminder, you can still book career counseling appointments – we’ve got availability for our virtual appointments. You can self-schedule via Handshake.   Topics & Dates 

Networking in the Job Search

Networking can be one of the most valuable uses of time in a job search as it allows you to gather information that can help focus your career planning, clarify paths, and learn about opportunities. At its core, networking is about building relationships and exchanging information — and it’s okay that at some points in your career you’re gathering information more than exchanging. As seniors embarking on a job search, you should have lots of questions! And getting those questions answered will help you learn about your chosen field(s), tell your story better, and maybe even uncover job opportunities. While it may be intimidating to ask someone to meet (virtually or by phone at this time), you’ll be surprised to learn how many people are eager to help. Here are some tools that will help you in the process: 

UVM Connect

UVM Connect is an exclusive online community of UVM alums, students, staff, and faculty. From the platform’s directory, you can find and reach out to members who have offered to provide fellow UVM’ers career support. These folks have already raised their hands to help out and indicated on their profile how they would like to – such as discussing their industry or offering a shadowing opportunity.

A few UVM Alumni Association regional board members have offered their support: Ian Davis ’10, G’16, Director of Finance, Vermont Department of Economic Development; Laura Fionda ’04, Trademark Attorney, U.S. Patent & Trade Office in Washington DC; and Sarah Madey ’09, Senior Brand Manager – Global Marketing at Hasbro, Inc. in Boston. Connect with them and many others on UVM Connect.   For tips on creating your profile, getting the most from your directory searches, and crafting your outreach message, check out the UVM Connect Module on Blackboard

LinkedIn

With more than 500 million members, LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking platform. LinkedIn provides a dynamic page for your online professional presence, a wealth of real-world information about careers, and a method for reaching out to members. 

As you build your network on LinkedIn, connect with those you know and trust. Start with friends, family, friends of family, classmates, faculty, supervisors, and mentors. Every connection you make expands your personal LinkedIn network and opens up more possibilities for people you can reach out to on the platform.

Use your UVM community on LinkedIn for support by joining two groups on the platform – University of Vermont Career Connection and the UVM Alumni Association. As a member of these groups (or any professional group on LinkedIn), you are able to reach out to members, whether you are connected on LinkedIn or not. 

The Alumni Tool is one of the most powerful parts of the platform. It enables you filter the 89,000+ members of the UVM community on LinkedIn by where they live and work and what they do. You can also search by keyword – title, company, skill, etc. UVM’s Alumni Tool can help you identify alums pursuing careers of interest, living where you want to move, and sharing a major or other UVM community with you.   For more information on these LinkedIn features and creating a strong profile, check out the LinkedIn module on Blackboard

Finding Opportunities

There are so many different ways to find different job opportunities online. Here are a few tips to consider as you start your job search from home. 

Company Websites

Almost all businesses will have a section of their website that includes their current openings. If you have had your eye on a specific company for years, their website could be a great place to start searching for jobs. One important consideration is that it might be hard to know the current standing of job posting on a business’s website due to the pandemic. Thankfully, Candor, a salary negotiation company, has developed a live tool that provides an update on the hiring statuses of over 5,300 companies. If you have a specific company in mind, Candor’s live tool is a great place to see if they are still hiring. 

Databases

With the amount of uncertainty in the job market due to the repercussions of the pandemic, it is probably a better bet to cast a wider net during your job search than to narrow in on specific companies. It’s hard to think about putting some of your career aspirations on hold, but it might be wiser to play the long game and consider what’s going to provide you with a source of income and comparable experience for now instead only focusing on your #1 choice. 

A great way to broaden your search is through job search databases such as Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor. Each of these platforms post thousands of jobs daily, instantaneously broadening the scope of your job search. Many of these jobs will even allow you to use your updated profile as a means of applying. 

To be honest, there are a ton of these databases online. We chose to stick to a small selection, however, because spending a lot of time crafting a strong profile on a few of these sites can increase your chancing of finding a job more than spending hours scrolling through lists of jobs on a wide range of sites. Recruiters use all of these sites to search for talent and Indeed even has staff who essentially serve as match makers, trying to pair candidates and employers alike. 

We recommend developing strong profiles on each of these platforms in order to raise your chances of being contacted by recruiters. If you are using Handshake or LinkedIn for the first time, check our Blackboard modules to learn how to set up your profiles and navigate the basic functions of the websites. You can use what you have learned from these modules to update your profiles on Indeed and Glassdoor as well. The more of your skills and experiences you incorporate on these profiles, the more these databases will work. Each employs the use of algorithms that suggest opportunities related to your skills and interests. A strong profile will make it easier for recruiters to find you as well.  
That being said – depending on your specific industry interests, you may want to check out an industry-specific database too. Each of our Interest Groups highlight commonly used job platforms on their “Industry-Specific Resource” pages.

Final Thoughts

As you ramp up your job search in the next few weeks here are a few things to take into consideration: 

Location: Remote – Many companies that are still hiring are updating their positions so that they can function remotely. Try searching for remote positions specifically to see what you can find – either as a keyword or a position type, depending on the platform you are using.

Position Timing – Many companies have not updated their postings since the pandemic started. Keep this in mind as you look through openings and try to avoid applying to jobs that were posted in mid-March. The more recent, the better. 

Temporary vs. Permanent – Keep in mind that the current situation is not normal and this will not be a normal search. Some of the positions you are finding might not be your ideal position but it might be the best fit for experience and livelihood at the moment. 

Watch Out for Scammers – Unfortunately there will always be someone looking to take advantage of a tough situation and this pandemic is no different. Do your research before you apply to companies you are unfamiliar with and never give out your SSN or banking information on an application. Visit our website for more information about fraudulent job postings.  

Track your Applications – It can be helpful to track your applications, especially when you’re applying to multiple positions each week. This can be a simple table that includes the job title, employer name, contact information, application submission date or due date, and relevant notes from the job description or about the organization. That way, you have a better idea of which employers to follow up with about applications – and have some context about the job if you get an interview. 

Practice Self-Care – During any job search, it’s important to take time off and unplug when you need it. This is especially important when you are juggling so many other transitions. Over the past several weeks, you have had to manage rather dramatic changes in your home, academic, and social life. For tips on self-care, connect with our friends over in Living Well – they’re offering lots of great virtual programming and their Instagram feed features a range of advice on caring for yourself and your community during these difficult times. You want to bring your best self to the job search, so taking time to pause and reflect on what you need is important, too.

Senior Series: Adapting your job search during COVID-19

Presenting: A Virtual Senior Series

These are uncertain times in our world. Like many of us, you are probably adjusting to this new normal of how you are working, learning, and connecting with your communities. And as seniors, you may be wondering or feeling anxious about how COVID-19 could impact your job search and post-graduation goals. We have created this new Senior Series newsletter to help you explore possibilities, control the parts of the job search that you can, better understand the ones you can’t, and confidently navigate your post-graduation next steps. You can expect to hear from us each Monday for the next five weeks with support, resources, and encouragement during this new normal. These newsletters are crafted with you in mind and aim to provide tips and activities that will help you launch a job search or enhance your current process.

To make the most of these resources, we suggest you set aside some time to re-visit this information later in the week as they are pretty densely packed. Under normal circumstances, we would have recommended setting aside an hour or two each week to work on a different aspect of your job search – so returning to these newsletters might be a helpful way to structure that time.

Topics:

  • Adjusting to a new normal 
  • How to network and job search
  • Resumes and cover letters
  • Virtual interviewing
  • Negotiating your salary

A New Normal

Just two months ago, the virus that is impacting our nation and world seemed far away for many in the United States. Today’s reality is quite different. As is true for our personal lives and campus operations, organizations are adapting to this new normal in different ways. Most fall into one of three categories: pausing their hiring processes, laying off workers, or gearing up for growth. We have spoken with employers in each of these positions and have heard one recurring theme: this is temporary. With creativity, agility, hard work, and some patience, we can get through this.

While this new reality has shifted our economy, the kinds of positions you might expect to find, and which employers are actively hiring, much of our job search advice remains the same: prepare your materials, network as much as possible, and leverage online tools. You may need to re-consider your short and long term goals, stay flexible in considering different industries or geographic locations, and practice putting yourself out there – but this is the reality for many job searchers under normal economic circumstances, too. As you prepare to launch or fine-tune your post-grad job search, remember that we are always here to support you.

Connecting with the Career Center

One on one appointments. You can self-schedule a phone or video appointment by logging in to Handshake, clicking “Career Center” and then “Appointments.” Fill in the details and choose a date/time that works for you. Your Career Counselor will then set up a call by phone or video.
Blackboard modules. There are 15+ self-paced modules available in our Blackboard organization. Topics range from informational interviews and choosing a major to internships and resumes.
Resume and cover letter reviews. You can submit a draft of your resume or cover letter for an online document review via Blackboard. Expect to hear back from us within 1-3 business days.
Handshake. In addition to browsing and applying to open positions, check out specific employer profiles to learn more about their organization. You can read reviews written by other students and alums who have worked with them (there are over 100,000 in the system!) as well as answers to questions asked by students at schools all over the country. Be sure to complete your profile and make yourself visible to employers if you’d like to be contacted by recruiters.
Interest groups. While you’re fine-tuning your Handshake profile, don’t forget to join an Interest Group (or two!) via your Career Interest survey. This will sign you up for a monthly communication focused on your industry interests – including job/internship opportunities and curated resources. You’ll join a network of peers, staff, faculty, employers, and alums who share your passions – and networking is critical during these shifting economic times.
Events. We’re working on reformatting some of our events – stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, there are several virtual events hosted by employers from around the country posted in Handshake, including a number of virtual career fairs.
Online resources. Our website features several additional online resources. This includes Candid Career, GoinGlobal, UVM Connect, and more. You can learn more about each of them on our Career Tool Library page.

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